How to get video-on-demand on your big screen TV

There’s a multitude of options available to you.

These days you really are spoiled for choice when it comes to catching up with your favorite TV shows online.  There are plenty of video-on-demand services available to UK consumers including catch up services from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and even Channel 5.

The problem is, not everyone wants to sit in front of their computer watching TV.  Nor do they want to put a big, noisy PC in their living room so that they can make use of their big screen TV.

But fear not, there are plenty of ways to take advantage of these services from the comfort of your sofa without too much of a financial overhead to you.

Get a low-power PC

OK, so you don’t want to put a large, noisy box next to your TV.  But there are plenty of PC’s around these days that are designed to be compact and silent.  Connect one of these bad boys up to your HD TV and you’ve got a great way to catch up on all the TV you’ve missed.

Some of these PC’s even come with mounts that allow you to attach them to the back of your TV, keeping them completely out of sight.

PC’s like the one above are more than powerful enough to play back HD content on your TV with ease, and you’ve got the added bonus of having a full Windows (or Linux if you’re on the cheap) PC at your disposal.

Buy a Smart TV

OK, so this isn’t the cheapest option available.  But if you’re looking at buying a new TV anyway, the additional cost of a Smart TV isn’t that great.

For those who don’t know, a Smart TV is one which allows you to consume content from online sources such as YouTube, BBC iPlayer or even from your PC or smartphone.

The only downside to Smart TV’s is that manufacturers are not great at providing continued support for older models.  So if a new catch up service becomes available it may not be supported on your nearly new TV.

We’ve got personal experience of this in the TME office; Samsung recently told us that our 6 month old Smart TV will not receive a software update allowing it to use Netflix.

Get a freeview box

Most TV’s sold today will come with a built in digital TV tuner, but getting yourself a decent freeview box could help you get access to the latest services available for well under £100.

Yes, it means you’ll use up an HDMI port replicating some services that your TV can handle on its own.  But you also end up with a whole bunch of new on-demand services.

Buy a freeview box from a well known manufacturer and you also stand a decent chance of receiving software updates when new services become available.

Raspberry Pi!

We love the Raspberry Pi, we’re not going to be shy about it.

This ultra-cheap ARM computer is more than powerful enough to playback HD video content with the right software installed.

It’s a bit more involved than the other options mentioned here, you’ll need to arrange a case, power supply and SD card for storage.  But if you’re not scared of doing a bit of research online then you could end up with a pretty capable media player for less than £50.

We’ll give you a hint, Google “Raspberry Pi XBMC”.


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